Sites of Memory, Acts of Erasure: On the Powers, Meanings and Limitations of the Historical Archive Öffentlichkeit Deposited

Samvera Connect 2019 Keynote Address

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A presentation at Samvera Connect 2019 described thus: Historian Pierre Nora has argued that we are living in an archival age––one in which we seek nothing less than “complete conservation of the present” and “total preservation of the past.” The advent of digital media has aided this project, but also exposed its futility, and in turn compounded our archival obsession, which Nora reminds us is rooted in anxiety about the meaning of the present, a sense of alienation from our collective past, and broader fears of cultural––or human––annihilation. In “Sites of Memory, Acts of Erasure,” Heidi Aronson Kolk will explore the unusual potency of the well-preserved material archive, while challenging us to consider its dark twin––the site of erasure, forgetting and annihilation. Her presentation will engage subjects introduced in her book, Taking Possession: The Politics of Memory in a St. Louis Town House (University of Massachusetts Press, 2019), but also recent political events in St. Louis, probing the deeper motives and implications of heritage preservation. The 'related URL' shown is a video recording of the conference's morning proceedings. The keynote address starts at time index 25:00.

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